Massachusetts opens door--a little--to retail clinic expansion

Seems like the Massachusetts Medical Society--or the AMA--has someone's ear. While state public health officials have opened the door to the emergence of retail clinics, their plans will also slow down a major Boston-area rollout by one of the largest and best-funded retail clinic operators. This gives at least a partial victory to a mixed group of providers who were fighting a proposed MinuteClinic expansion in the state.

Officials with the state's Department of Public Health have agreed in principle to allow retail clinic operators to begin opening locations in the state--if they follow a set of new regulations which will be issued Aug. 8. However, the decision effectively delays CVS from opening 20 to 30 Boston-area MinuteClinics. The company will have to reapply to open the clinics, preventing it from opening its first clinics this fall as expected.

Such a delay will do little to stem the competitive threat retail clinics pose to primary care physicians over the long haul. However, it may give Boston's PCP's a chance to rethink their business models a bit and perhaps roll out some competitive services of their own. Not only that, if AMA and affiliates are sincerely concerned about quality of care at the clinics--rather than simply posturing for competitive reason--the new regs may go some way toward reassuring them. Let's see how they react once CVS gets its approval and starts the rollout sometime next year. 

To find out more about the retail clinic situation in Massachusetts:
- read this article from The Boston Globe

ALSO: Interested in how MinuteClinic performs on quality measures?  Get one perspective from MN Community Measurement, a group of health plans, medical groups, physicians, patients and employers who rate quality of care in Minnesota. Report

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